Dozens of eligible underclassmen have or will announce in the coming weeks that they are leaving early for the NFL, with each carrying various degrees of impact on their respective team’s prospects for the 2013 season.
This one will likely have as big of an impact as any other.
Largely overlooked and undervalued outside of Chapel Hill specifically and the ACC in general over the past two seasons, Giovani Bernard announced that he has decided to leave North Carolina and enter the 2013 NFL draft. The running back, who likely would’ve been included in the preseason Heisman mix, is foregoing his final two years of eligibility to make the leap.
A press conference has been scheduled for 2 p.m. ET today for Bernard to discuss the decision.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my three years in Chapel Hill and coming to UNC was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” said Bernard in a statement released ahead of the press conference. “I feel like the best decision for my future is to enter the NFL draft this year. I want to thank Coach Fedora, this coaching staff and the previous coaching staff for putting me in a position to succeed. I am on track to graduate and I plan on coming back to earn my degree in the Spring of 2014.”
A torn ACL suffered during summer camp cost Bernard all of his true freshman season in 2010, but the redshirt sophomore came back to earn All-ACC first-team honors the past two seasons. He led the conference in rushing, scoring and all-purpose yardage in 2012, and led the nation in punt returns average (16.4 yards per).
He accomplished all of that this season despite missing two games with a left knee issue.
“Gio is a special player and an even better person,” said UNC head coach Larry Fedora. “He flourished in our offense and was an outstanding leader for our program. After the season was over, we helped him gather as much information as possible so he and his family could make the best decision for his future. We support his decision and wish him nothing but success as he takes the next step in his football career. He is a tremendous ambassador for this program.”
Depending on which direction other players at his position take before the mid-January deadline, the 5-10, 205-pound Bernard could be the first running back selected in the upcoming draft.
I’m going to go ahead and guess that some will have some fun with and/or angst over Lane Kiffin for the decision made by his current employer.
In mid-June, Kalib Woods was arrested on two counts of felony battery. The charges stemmed from a January party in which it’s alleged that the Florida Atlantic wide receiver broke the jaw of one man and caused internal bleeding in another.
Because of the charges, Woods was suspended for the Owls’ first six games of the season. Despite the fact that the felony charges are still pending — his next court appearance is Jan. 10 — his lawyer has confirmed to OwlAccess.com that his client will be allowed to play in this Saturday’s Homecoming Game against North Texas.
The decision was made during a university disciplinary hearing Monday.
“I applaud the university or doing the right thing despite the fact that criminal charges are still pending,” Woods’ attorney, Michael Gottlieb, told the website.
Initially barred from campus after the arrest, the school ultimately reversed course, which allowed Woods to attend classes and practice with the team. The website also reports that Woods was removed from scholarship and is now a member of the team as a walk-on.
Last season, Woods was easily the Owls’ top threat in the passing game as he led the team with 68 receptions for 934 yards. For his career, the redshirt senior’s 111 catches have produced 1,487 yards and six touchdowns.
As Texas looks to keep pace with the Iowa State’s of the Big 12, they’ll do so in a key matchup without a reliable piece of its running game.
By way of the Austin American-Statesman, it’s expected that Kyle Porter is “probably not going to play” in Saturday’s Week 8 game against Oklahoma State. The sophomore running back suffered an unspecified chest injury in the Week 7 loss to Oklahoma.
The American-Statesman writes that “Porter attempted to participate in Thursday’s practice but was pulled after feeling pain.”
Porter is currently second on the team in carries (56) and rushing touchdowns (three). His 161 yards rushing are third on the team behind quarterback Sam Ehlinger‘s 275 and Chris Warren‘s 274.
At 2-1, Texas is currently tied with Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia for second place in the Big 12, behind 3-0 TCU.
As has been the case for the last couple of weeks, Florida State’s receiving corps will be at less than 100-percent health.
On its official injury report, FSU listed wide receivers George Campbell and Keith Gavin (pictured) as out for Saturday’s Week 8 game against Louisville. Gavin will be sidelined because of an ankle injury, Campbell a hip issue.
Both receivers missed last weekend’s win over Duke. Campbell sustained his injury in the Week 5 loss to Wake Forest, while Gavin left the Miami loss because of his.
Gavin is currently third on the Seminoles in receptions (14) and receiving yards (134). Campbell has six catches for 122 yards, which is fourth on the team. His 20.3 yards per catch is tops on the ‘Noles.
One bright spot for this unit is the fact that Auden Tate, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury since the Week 4 loss to North Carolina State, is close to 100 percent per head coach Jimbo Fisher. Tate currently leads the ‘Noles with 19 receptions for 312 yards, and has caught five of the six touchdown passes thrown by the team this season.
If there was ever a dictionary definition of a tale of two halves, this game was it.
Through two quarters of play, Houston held a relatively comfortable 17-0 lead on No. 25 Memphis as the AAC teams headed into their respective halftime locker rooms. When the second-half dust had settled, the Tigers had righted themselves en route to a 42-point last two quarters in a stunning 42-38 come-from-behind win over the Cougars.
Riley Ferguson passed for 471 yards in the win, although he had just one touchdown pass on the night. Patrick Taylor managed the scoring load for the Tigers, though, as he scored four rushing touchdowns on 14 carries for 39 yards; Taylor had just three touchdowns the first seven games of the season entering Thursday night.
Despite Memphis’ second-half scoring deluge, homestanding Houston actually held a 10-point lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the game. Turnovers on their last two possessions, however, torpedoed any chance of the home upset of a ranked conference foe.
With the win, Memphis moves to 3-1 in American Athletic Conference play and into a temporary tie with Navy, which plays No. 20 UCF Saturday, for the top spot in the Group of Five conference’s West Division.